Converting an image to black and white can take an otherwise so-so photo and bring it to life by adding richness to the image while imparting a retro, almost, timeless feel to the photo.
Photoshop Elements offers multiple ways to do this type of conversion but the method that I'll show you here is the quick and easy way. But be sure to work on a copy since this method changes the image and, once saved, you can't go back.
Start by opening your image in the Elements Editor. For this conversion method, you can work in either the Quick or the Expert editing mode. Select one of these by clicking on the appropriate tab in the top of the Editor workspace.
Click on Enhance in the top menu bar and then Convert to Black and White from the drop down menu.
The Convert to Black and White dialog box will appear showing a before and after view of your image. The after image is a live preview and, so, will show you the changes to your photo as you make them.
You will also find a selection of black and white conversion presets towards the bottom of the dialog box (with the default set to Scenic Landscape) along with color and contrast sliders that allow you to adjust the conversion as you like to suit your particular image.
Try out each preset to see which affect you like best. And don't be afraid to use one with a description that doesn't seem to match the style or subject of your particular photo. Try out each and see which one you like best.
For the picture of Shelly, I decided to use the Vivid Landscapes preset.
Once you have decided on a conversion preset, keep in mind that that's just a starting point. You can fine-tune and adjust the settings to your liking and for what suits your photo, using the four Adjust Intensity sliders found in the lower right portion of the dialog box.
The top three are color sliders that affect the brightness of your black and white image in the areas that correspond to that particular color on your original photo. Moving the slider to the left darkens the area while moving right makes the area brighter.
So, for example, if you were working on a photo that includes green grass, you could make the grassy area brighter in the black and white conversion by moving the green slider to the right.
The bottom slider controls the image Contrast. Moving it to the right increases contrast and decreases contrast when you move the slider to the left.
So you can move these sliders back and forth until your black and white image looks good to you.
For my photo, I actually like what I getting from the Vivid Landscape preset, so I'm going to leave it like that.
Here's my final black and white photo:
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f you are just getting started in photography, exposure is one of the first things you need learn.
But even beyond that, getting a good handle on exposure and how the different components of exposure work together is essential if you want to take control of your photography and the images that you are creating.